For me, it's not so much i refuse to collect, but more I have come to realize that (for me) it is more satisfying to be specialized. Like most, my childhood stamp collecting adventure started with a WW album and the challenge was to match my stamp with the photo in the album, or at least get the different denominations in the correct order.
and, whereas as a child I was always excited about a mint stamp, now i find I get more excited about a really good clear cancelation to put the stamp more in a historical context.
I am not that interested in the post classic issues beyond 1940s/50s, and todays issues I don't really find all that interesting at all, many looking like something i could print out on my home computer with the aid of any one of a number of graphic design programs
What ever the reason one does or does not collect this or that is what makes this hobby so diverse and interesting!
At the risk of seeming needlessly serious, never collect a country or person you might have to apologize for. Even a private matter--like a stamp album--should bear any test of judgment. Someone I watch is Patricia Kaufman. Of course I understand why she enjoys writing up her research on Confederate postal history. American Stamp Dealer and Stamp Collectors Quarterly wouldn't be half as interesting without her. She's insightful and industrious, but she's pushing the envelope and seems careful not to cross the boundaries of good taste. I won't give a penny to preserve the Lost Cause. As for all that Hitler stuff, good Gawd.
There is not a particular country I would not collect. I am not overly fond of Disney issues and other issues that were obviously issued by countries or agencies just to sell to collectors. I will admit I do have a few Disney issues that I got during my childhood. They were such a novelty at the time. As I love history, I have many stamps that were issued by regimes occupying another country. I just try to be sensitive and not display or post images of these issues.
I enjoy seeing and hearing about other people’s collecting interests. I find it inspires me.
My difficulty is that I really need to not collect all that I collect. I have no inhibitions about collecting any stamp that comes my way and even have a hard time getting rid of dupes. The odd thing is that I really want to specialize and devote myself to one topic area or specific issue of a country that I like...machins, US used pnc singles, Mexico exportas, etc...are all examples of small, somewhat abbreviated collections that I have started but never can quite devote all my time and stamp spending money to. I really wish I could because it would make my stamp collecting life easier and I wouldn't jump around so much from country to country.
I am 50+ years old but as far as stamp collecting is concerned I feel like a job-hopping millenial.
I made a decision, back when I was a teenager with limited financial resources and had to make hard choices on what to buy, to forego the Eastern European countries which were flooding the market at the time. I have stuck to that decision, although for very special cases I have gotten some stamps from them (like my avatar stamp which is a Soviet issue), but these are rare exceptions. Later, once I started spending serious money on my collection and was pondering the large selections you can find at online vendors, I had to come up with a priority system to help me choose what to buy. So I devised a system in which each stamp lot receives 3 "priority" rankings, one according to country, one according to thematic interest, and a third according to price. Then I add these three numbers up and the lots with the lowest total have the highest priority. This is not a perfect system, so I've tried to tweak it by adding the numbers in multiple ways, and I use a combination of these sums to guide my purchasing. Which does not preclude falling in love with a stamp set and going for that above the others from time to time, of course.
So the system goes:
For countries: Rank 1: My main collecting interests: France, Canada (and former provinces), USA, Guatemala, Africa (all), St-Pierre-et-Miquelon, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Inini, TAAF, UN (all administrations), Syria (UAR period only), Palestine (overprinted Egyptian stamps only). Rank 2: Associated to the above: Andorra (both administrations), Monaco, Saarland, Wallis-and-Futuna, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, French Indochina, French India, French Offices in China. Rank 3: Germany (FRG, II. and III. Reichs, Weimar Republic, Berlin), German states, German colonies, Western German Allied occupation zones, Memel (French and German overprinted issues only). Rank 4: Greenland, Rest of Western Europe, Rest of Oceania. Rank 5: Rest of the Americas, Rest of Asia, Cyprus, Turkey. Rank 6: Eastern Europe, Soviet Republics, Israel, Turkish Cyprus, Eastern German occupation zones, DDR.
For themes: Rank 1: Science and technology, Nobel Prize winners, Space and astronomy, Northern and Southern lights, petroglyphs and prehistoric art. Rank 2: Stamps-on-stamps, flags, maps. Rank 3: Currency on stamps, Montreal (particularly Expo 67 and 76 Olympics issues), Jules Verne, Victor Hugo, Europa issues, non-rectangular shapes, errors and oddities, perfins, anything else of "special interest" to me. And some stamp themes that the kids like, although these have changed with time, but have included: certain story/movie characters, snails, penguins, rainbows, seahorses. Or related to some of my wife's favourite things: Klimt, Salzburg, Vienna. Rank 4: Artsy stamps (usually large format reproductions of paintings or sculptures), other stamps where the engraving work is of great quality. Rank 5: All other stamps that appear in my catalogs. Rank 6: Everything else.
For price (per stamp, in units of the currency of the country I am ordering from, i.e. EUR, CAD, or USD): Rank 1: Up to 2 Rank 2: 2 to 5 Rank 3: 5 to 10 Rank 4: 10 to 20 Rank 5: 20 to 50 Rank 6: 50 to 150 Rank 7: 150 to 300 (I usually do not even consider stamps above 300$, too rich for my blood)
With these numbers I build large Excel spreadsheets where I enter all the stamp lots I am interested in so that I can order them easily and play around with the sorting function to decide what I do buy. For a lot to interest me, it must contain at least one stamp with a score below Rank 4 in either the country or the theme. Rank 6 for either can be disqualifying, but these are individual judgment calls. Not the only condition, but necessary for making it on the spreadsheet. It's not the simplest system, but considering my spreadsheets contain several thousand stamp lots adding up to more than 100K$ in purchasing price, I needed something!
My difficulty is that I really need to not collect all that I collect (....) I really wish I could because it would make my stamp collecting life easier
I feel the same as darkormex. It seems I'm unable to give up on anything. For now I have only limited myself to not collect the stamps that's been listed as not issued for postal use, e.g. most of the 'stamps' from the 'Sanddunes' and also lots of suspected issues from areas like Equatorial Guinea, Panama and numerous others.
'Not collect' and 'not actively collect' is kind of related tough. So even I still consider myself a general WW collector, most of the countries of the world I do not actively chase/collect/purchase - I just pick up whatever comes my way in general lots, boxes etc.
hrdoktorx - wow, I am amazed with your clearly defined and almost mathematical strategy for your collection! Must be quite complex when going shopping then, but at least you'll get what you really want. This must require an impressing determination and sense for details! Personally I am kind of the opposite from yourself - I am opportunistic and simply shop what my stampy-heart desires there and then
I doubt I have collected many stamps issued since about 1980. My Denmark and my GB collections have been sold years ago.
Apart from Samoa which is now seriously expensive, as I collect 19th century mail, I no longer have country collections at all!
I have a dormant collection of First Issues from Europe ( Dormant because Genuine German and Italian States are a minefield for the unwary and too expensive for certified copies.)
My other collecting interests are Tobacco and anti-Smoking, which does take in a huge range of countries, but very limited number of issues from each. ( incidentally yesterday I had to go against all my principles and buy cigarettes for a blind neighbour. I haven't done that in 40 years so £8,or $10 for 20 and she smokes 20+ a day ….. $70 a week would buy some decent stamps)
My current passion is Postal history, where war has impacted on mail deliveries. From American Civil war, Crimea, Boer War, WWI and WW2, I have not progressed to Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan. Maybe 75%-80% of that collection is British, with Military mail and POW mail from a range of countries making up the rest.
what ever it is , it's better than a poke in the eye from a wet umbrella!
That is some elaborate method to determine what you will collect and not collect. I stop around 1980 as I see this as the start of Disney/Diana era and when all those former British colonies went nuts. Actually some of the designs/topics are excellent but wish they would have issued mini-sheets of 12 different designs rather than 20 sheets of different denominations. The high values rarely had postal use.
I also modified the subject to formally broaden the question.